Our Favourite Second Albums

Published on 18 June 2020

Ah, yes. The dreaded second album. Why is it such a big deal?!

Imagine this. You've released your debut album - it’s an absolute smasher. Hit after hit. Your fan base goes WILD. And then suddenly you’re hit with the pressure to do it all over again, and deliver something even better… somehow! What happens if you don't deliver? Some bands don’t quite nail the second album. We won’t name and shame them, but we’re sure that you’ll have your own opinions about that one.

We guess it's all down to the pressure of touring the first album, influence from the record label, and the constant jet lag that is living the Rockstar life.

The 'second album slump' is very much a thing. Think of it as your average Joe's mid-life crisis. Instead of driving around in a sports car with the top down, the wind flowing through your receding hairline… the second album sometimes also sometimes screams WHAT IS GOING ON?!?!

Today we’re looking at those who nailed the second album right on the head, with no slump in sight. As they say, you’re only as good as your last album, and if the second one is rubbish, then good luck at trying to maintain a career... Jokes. That was pretty harsh, but you know what we mean. 

Right, here we go…

Nirvana - Nevermind 

Do you remember the first time you heard Nirvana? For us, it was a stop everything you're doing type of moment Released in 1991, the band's second album is what propelled them to overnight-success. This album truly changed the cultural landscape. Along with its anthemic first single “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, this album had teens of the 90s suddenly turning punk and kicked the likes of Michael Jackson and hair metal bands off the top of the album charts - it was time for the spotlight to shine on grunge now!

Black Sabbath - Paranoid 

We're sure that you all know and love this album as music as we do! The tracklisting on this album looks more like a collection of Sabbath’s greatest hits and certainly not a sophomore album, with tracks such as “War Pigs”, “Iron Man”, and of course “Paranoid”.

Here's a fun fact for you... did you know that Sabbath almost never recorded the title track because they feared that it sounded a little too much like Led Zeppelin's "Communication Breakdown"? See, every day is a school day with guitarguitar.

Oasis - (What's the Story) Morning Glory? 

The second album from these two cheeky chappies was truly outstanding. With personal favourites such as "Roll With It" and "She’s Electric",cult classics such as "Wonderwall", "Don’t Look Back in Anger" and "Champagne Supernov"a are important songs to many people, and have used been the anthem of hope in recent years. 

Carole King - Tapestry 

Carole King’s Tapestry album is a treasure trove of beautifully poetic, heart-wrenching, life-affirming songs. This record is was what turned Carole into a music songwriting legend. Each song is just so effortlessly captivating and is an album we will return to again and again, it's nothing short of flawless. The second album dread was clearly nothing to the mighty Carole King. 

Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin II

We trust no human that dislikes Led Zeppelin. Seriously! From the success off the back of the bands debut album released in 1969, you could tell that theses guys weren't just gonna be a heavy blues one hit wonder. No sir. They came back with an even better second album, with hit classics such as "Whole Lotta Love" and "Ramble on". Lazily titled, but we'll forgive them for that. During this album, you can really feel the '70s start. 

Cream - Disraeli Gears

Released in 1967, Disraeli Gears was the album that launched Cream to international stardom, and personally, we think it is their finest collection of work. With classic tracks such as "Strange Brew" and "Sunshine of Your Love", this is most certainly not only one of the best second albums ever made, but one of our favourite records of all time. Disraeli Gears certainly defined the laws of that second album slump myth.  

Did you know that the entire album was recorded in just five days, which is utterly crazy to believe for the masterpiece that it is! 

Nine Inch Nails - The Downward Spiral 

Certainly on our list of the best albums of the ‘90s, from cover to cover this album ticks all our boxes. Gut-wrenching, funky, groovy and thrashy…what more could you want?

Nine Inch Nails fan? Check out our interview with Robin Finck here!

The Beatles - With The Beatles 

Beatlemania pretty much starts here! While the band’s debut album Please Please Me was famously cut in one day, The Beatles follow up album came together in a more leisurely pace you could say, taking seven recording sessions over four months and was released eight months to the after Please Please Me. They recorded this album whilst touring the UK, building up a rapid and devoted fanbase, all that would make their second album their first UK million seller. All whilst preparing to take over America.

Beastie Boys - Paul's Boutique 

Sometimes described as the “Sgt. Pepper of hip-hop”, the Beastie Boys second album was a true sonic cocktail of tracks and was the critical acclaim they desperately desired. Boasting a wide variety and catalog of samples from soul, rap, disco, rock, and punk this album, is really the gift that keeps on giving and arrived at a pivotal time for the trio. 

Final thoughts

For any artist, making that second album is always a daunting thought and sometimes matching up to the success of your first isn't always an easy thing to do. However, it isn't completely impossible to do. Some artists just get it right. We'd love to know your thoughts in the comments below. Have you noticed that the second album is always a little, er, of a let down? Or, do you have some favourite records that are second albums? Let us know! 

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